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Cuddle Bug

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Blake’s nose was buried in a book as she sat alone on her bed in Team RWBY’s dorm room at Beacon Academy. It was late in the day, and the afternoon sun was casting sunbeams into the room through the partially drawn window shades. There was an uncharacteristically sedate atmosphere in the room thanks to the more rambunctious members of Team RWBY still being in class. In short, it was the perfect time for reading, and Blake was taking full advantage.

Blake turned over a page in her book, having reached the end of a chapter. She glanced at the clock on the wall. Another period of the school day had ended about ten minutes ago, and that meant that Blake wouldn’t be alone for much longer since a certain teammate of hers with a penchant for punching things had gotten out of class.

Right on cue, the door to the dorm room opened, and Yang shuffled in. However, she wasn’t her usual chipper self. There were visible bags under her eyes, and she was obviously exhausted.

Blake smirked. She asked, “Did you turn your report in?”

“Yeah,” Yang said, stifling a yawn.

Yang had stayed up all night the last three nights running in an attempt to finish her big political science report that had been due today. She had been given the assignment months ago, but true to form, she’d waited until the last minute to actually start working on it. It wasn’t the first time she’d pulled something like this, but if the pattern held, Yang would get a good enough score to maintain her middling grade point average. It was mildly infuriating sometimes how she always seemed to get away with cramming her major school projects.

“I hope you’ve learned a lesson about starting on your assignments earlier,” Blake said.

“If I didn’t…” Yang let out a big yawn. “…I’m sure Weiss will remind me.”

“Maybe you should take a nap,” Blake suggested. She could see Yang swaying unsteadily on her feet.

“Yeah…. That’s not a bad idea,” Yang said. She started stumbling toward her bed.

Blake quietly watched as Yang crawled up onto her bunk and lifted herself out of sight. A minute later, Yang’s discarded boots came tumbling over the side. They were followed by her jacket which flopped onto the floor.

The bed above Blake creaked as Yang settled in, but it went still a second or two later. Yang must have fallen asleep nearly instantly.

Blake looked back down at her book. There was still plenty of time before Ruby and Weiss would show up, but rather than start another chapter, Blake set the book aside. She lay down on her bed and stared up intently at the mattress hanging over her head. However, it wasn’t the mattress that had captured her interest; it was the person it hid from view.

Even with her bow covering her sensitive ears, Blake could still hear the soft sounds of Yang’s breathing. She sighed to herself as her mind drifted back to her encounter with Yang in the Emerald Forest at the beginning of the semester, the one that had made the two of them partners.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, Blake partnering up with Yang had not been a coincidence. Professor Ozpin may have been content to leave things up to chance, but Blake had not been. She had purposefully chosen Yang as her partner. It had been for a number of reasons. For starters, Yang didn’t seem to harbor any deliberate prejudice against the faunus. She certainly wasn’t a crusader for faunus rights, but she wasn’t actively making the problem worse, which was better than Blake had been hoping for. Almost as important, Yang tended to call a lot of attention to herself—it had certainly been easy enough to track her down in the Emerald Forest with all the noise she’d been making—and if people were paying attention to Yang that meant they weren’t paying attention to Blake. It had been Blake’s plan to live in Yang’s shadow, socially speaking, and so far, it had been working.

All in all, Blake was pleased with her choice of partner, at least she had been at first. Unfortunately, it hadn’t taken long before she’d hit a bit of a snag. The one thing she hadn’t taken into account was how annoyingly attractive Yang was, and not necessarily in a physical sense. Yang was certainly beautiful, but that alone wouldn’t have been such a problem for Blake.

Blake’s first impression of Yang had been of a brash and cocky young huntress-in-training who wore her emotions on her sleeves. And while all of that had proven to be true, there was a lot more to Yang than met the eye. She was kind and caring to her friends, almost in a motherly way. And beneath her flashy exterior, she had a surprising amount of emotional maturity, at least when she chose to. However, what had really captured Blake’s attention was the quiet strength that hid deep within Yang’s core. Blake vividly recalled the night she’d first glimpsed it. It had been a quiet evening in the dorm room, and the members of Team RWBY had been getting ready for bed. The lights had been dimmed, and Yang had been sitting on her bunk. She’d probably thought that no one was paying attention to her, but thanks to Blake’s faunus eyesight, she’d very clearly seen the wistful expression on Yang’s face, and the pain in her eyes, as she’d stared across the room at her sister. It was a pain that Blake recognized all too well, a pain that could only come from loss.

To learn that Yang had endured some unknown hardship in the past and chosen to rise above it had resonated deeply with Blake. It was inspiring, if Blake had to pick a word to describe it. The revelation had drawn Blake in with frightening strength. She wanted so badly to be the one to soothe Yang’s hurt. And she longed to connect with Yang so deeply that she could draw on Yang’s courage when her own failed. It was a potent cocktail of emotions, and it left Blake weak in the knees whenever she thought about it too much.

Blake wondered what her relationship with Yang might have become if circumstances had been different. She had done her best to hide her nascent feelings for Yang, but it hadn’t been easy. Especially since Blake knew there was a real possibility that said feelings would be returned. It was very obvious that unlike Blake, Yang didn’t have any qualms about her bisexuality. And more than once during the semester Yang had been borderline flirting with Blake. Fortunately, Yang had yet to make any serious moves. Blake was grateful for that. She didn’t want to have to rebuff Yang and close the door once and for all on the possibility that their friendship might blossom into something more. Without that finality, Blake could still cling to her fantasies.

Underneath her bow, Blake’s ears twitched. They felt itchy, but Blake had trained herself to resist the urge to scratch. Unfortunately, acting on her feelings for Yang was out of the question for the simple reason that Yang thought Blake was human. Blake was not prepared to reveal her big secret yet, even to her friends. And confessing to Yang without her knowing the truth just seemed like a recipe for disaster.

A light snoring started drifting down from Yang’s bed. The sound gently pulled Blake back to reality. A blush colored her cheeks as she realized how much she’d been obsessing over Yang just now, but that was exactly the problem. She couldn’t seem to get Yang out of her head anymore. Yang had become this irresistible force that she couldn’t escape.

Yang’s snoring continued. Blake smiled at how adorable it sounded. Leave it to Yang to find a way to be cute even when she was passed out from exhaustion. However, Blake’s smile quickly faded. Maybe she and Yang would’ve been great as girlfriends. Maybe they wouldn’t have been. But it felt incredibly unfair that they’d never get the chance to find out.

Blake decided that she’d had enough for one day of torturing herself with thoughts of what could have been. She sat up and got out of bed. She looked around the room for something to distract herself with. However, despite her best efforts, her eyes inevitably fell on Yang.

Blake stared at her partner. Yang was lying flat on her back on top of her bed’s covers. A sunbeam from the window just so happened to be falling on the empty part of the bed right next to its occupant. Blake couldn’t help but notice how warm and inviting the scene looked. Vale wasn’t nearly as far north as Atlas, but the winters could still be harsh. Blake had spent many nights camping out in the wilderness when she’d been with the White Fang. She remembered all too well huddling around a tiny fire fueled by what meager granules of Red Dust could be spared. If there was one thing Blake had learned to appreciate over the years, it was being warm.

Almost subconsciously, Blake took a step toward Yang. Her hand reached out and touched the empty part of Yang’s bed. She stood there, paralyzed by the impasse between her emotions and her better judgment. Every fiber of her being was yearning for her to crawl up on the bed and snuggle in next to Yang, but she wasn’t about to do something so wildly inappropriate. So she was left longing for what she could never have.

Suddenly, Yang stirred in her sleep. She rolled over onto her side, and her hand flopped down on top of Blake’s. The sudden physical contact made Blake’s heart stop in her chest. Yang’s skin was pleasantly warm, and her touch was intoxicating. Even so, had Blake not been caught so off guard, she would’ve pulled her hand away immediately. However, by the time she’d realized that she should, it was too late. Yang’s fingers curled around hers, trapping her hand in place.

Blake stared dumbly at her captured hand. She wasn’t really trapped of course. She could pull her hand away whenever she wanted to, but that would risk disturbing Yang. The last thing Blake wanted to do was try to figure out a way to casually brush off Yang asking why they had been holding hands.

Yang’s eyelids twitched for a moment, causing panic to shoot through Blake. She was certain that Yang was about to wake up, but then nothing seemed to happen. Yang didn’t open her eyes or lift her head.

After a few moments of calm, Blake dared to let out a sigh of relief, and that was exactly when things went from bad to worse. Yang suddenly started rolling onto her back again, and she hadn’t let go of Blake’s hand. In fact, her grip was surprisingly strong for someone who was supposedly asleep.

Yang only got about halfway through her roll before the length of Blake’s arm ran out. Yang ended up tilted at a forty-five-degree angle. She made tiny, frustrated sounds as she repeatedly tugged on Blake’s hand.

Blake’s heart was pounding in her chest now. Her eyes darted back and forth as she tried to figure out what to do. The obvious answer, of course, was for her to let go, but she was in no fit state of mind to grasp the obvious answer. Yang started pulling even more insistently, and before Blake could reconsider, she found herself acquiescing to Yang’s demands and crawling up onto Yang’s bunk.

Yang rolled the rest of the way onto her back and let out a contented mumble. Then her hand finally let go of Blake’s and limply flopped onto her chest.

Now free, Blake still found herself in an incredibly awkward position. She was perched on top of Yang’s bed on her knees and one hand with Yang lightly snoring right next to her. She didn’t dare move a muscle for fear of jostling Yang. She didn’t even breathe.

Seconds passed, each one longer than the last, but once Blake was absolutely certain that Yang had settled back down, she started to collect herself. As bizarre as this whole situation was, it wasn’t a catastrophe just yet. However, her body was already complaining about the uncomfortable position she was attempting to hold, so she ever so slowly lowered herself until she was lying on the bed as well.

Blake’s muscles tensed as she found her face scant inches from Yang’s. She kept expecting a calamity to strike, but to her amazement, the world didn’t end nor did the walls of Beacon come tumbling down. For a moment, Blake actually began to relax, encouraged by the warm sunbeam on her skin and the serene look on Yang’s face. Unfortunately, the moment quickly passed, and Blake realized that she needed to get out of there. This was unfair to both her and Yang, and the longer she spent in Yang’s bed the more she felt like a pervert.

Blake rolled over onto her other side, taking great care not to disturb Yang. She was just about to quietly slink off the bed when Yang stirred again. Yang’s arm suddenly snaked out and curled around Blake, and she pressed into Blake from behind. Before Blake knew it, Yang was spooning against her and mumbling happily in her sleep.

A fresh wave of panic shot through Blake as she lay there. It was only now that she realized how insidious the trap she’d foolishly let herself get caught in actually was. Cuddling next to Yang was everything that she’d hoped it would be and more. It was wonderful, too wonderful in fact. Now Blake knew unequivocally what she was missing out on. This was like dying of thirst in the desert and only being given a thimble of water to drink. It would’ve been better to have no water at all rather than just enough to make her understand how thirsty she really was.

The minutes rolled by, and with each one that passed Blake feared she was racing closer and closer to disaster. Her resolve hardened. It was time for her to end this farce. A look of concentration crossed her face. Then a shimmer briefly passed over Blake’s body as she activated her semblance. She popped off the bed, leaving a clone behind cuddled up with Yang.

Blake silently and gracefully landed on her feet, finally safe back on the floor. She felt cold now that she was free of Yang’s embrace, but she tried not to focus on that. She glanced over at Yang’s bunk and watched her clone vanish. Yang’s arm fell down onto the now half-empty bed, but she didn’t wake.

Blake’s shoulders drooped with relief that she didn’t really feel. She turned toward the door. It was obvious that she couldn’t trust herself to be alone with Yang right now. She needed to get out of the dorm room and clear her head. Maybe she’d retreat to the library and do some studying. The midterm exams were still weeks away, but Blake needed something to take her mind off things.

Blake started heading toward the door, but the moment she did, a sleepy voice asked, “Hey. Where’d you go?”

Blake froze, and her blood ran cold. She slowly turned around and saw a bleary-eyed Yang looking at her.

“Come back here,” Yang said. “That was nice.”

Alarm bells were blaring in Blake’s head. Yang was awake. Yang knew. Blake wanted to run, not just out of the room, but away from Beacon, never to return. She took a step, but to her great surprise, it was toward Yang.

Blake inched her way closer to Yang’s bed, and Yang scooted back a little to make more room for her. Then she patted the space in front of her.

Blake wondered how awake Yang actually was. Maybe if she tucked Yang in and lulled her back to sleep she could convince her later that this had all been a dream. But it was no use. Yang beckoning her had been like a siren’s call, and she was powerless to resist. She climbed back onto Yang’s bed and lay down.

Yang curled into Blake’s side again, immediately causing Blake to tense up.

“Hey. Relax,” Yang said, stifling a yawn.

Blake wanted to relax, but she couldn’t allow herself to. There was too much guilt and fear inside of her for that. Desperate to get out of the wonderful, disastrous situation she’d found herself in, she tried to think up some excuse that would allow her to extract herself from Yang’s arms with a modicum of her dignity intact. She said, “Ruby and Weiss will be back soon.”

“So?” Yang asked.

“So…. We…” Blake stuttered. “We…don’t want to give them the wrong impression.”

“Wrong impression about what?” Yang asked.

“About us,” Blake said.

“Mmm,” Yang said. “Guess we’ll have to go on a date sometime then.”

“We’ll…what?” Blake asked.

“Then it won’t be the wrong impression,” Yang said.

Blake was stunned. Yang still sounded like she was half asleep. Surely she wasn’t fully aware of what she was saying.

Yang asked, “Don’t you want to? Go on a date?”

“Yes,” Blake said before she could think better of it.

“See? That didn’t…” Yang was interrupted by a yawn. “…have to be so hard.”

Blake was struck dumb. But as she pondered over Yang’s words, her suspicions rose.

“You were awake,” Blake declared. “You grabbed my hand on purpose.”

“Me?” Yang asked innocently.

“You already knew,” Blake said.

“Knew what?” Yang asked.

“That I was…interested…in you,” Blake elaborated.

“Kind of obvious,” Yang replied.

Had anyone else said that Blake would have been insulted. She wasn’t used to being seen through so easily. She asked, “If you already knew, why haven’t you asked me out before now?”

“Because you would’ve said no,” Yang explained.

At first Blake felt indignant, but she couldn’t deny that Yang was right. She was also impressed. She wouldn’t have guessed that Yang could exhibit such self-control. It seemed there was still more to her for Blake to uncover.

“Hmm…” Yang muttered sleepily. “Going on a date.”

Blake was about to point out that she hadn’t agreed to do that yet, but she finally realized that she could. She could actually go on a date with Yang. Nothing was stopping her anymore save for herself. She was suddenly very aware of her bow and what was hidden underneath. Surely dating Yang was doomed to fail, but now that the cat was out of the bag, to use an unapt metaphor, would it be so terrible to at least give it a try?

Yang pressed in closer to Blake, and Blake finally surrendered to the comfort that Yang was offering her. The tension in her body melted away. She felt safe and warm in Yang’s arms like she hadn’t in a very long time. The future was still uncertain, but maybe right now that didn’t matter. Maybe right now it would be okay to accept the present for what it was.

“Thank you,” Blake whispered to Yang.

Yang squeezed Blake a little tighter. No words were spoken, but Blake still understood.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

“I still can’t believe she did that! Again!” Weiss said.

“Mmm-hmm,” Ruby said.

“You need to have a talk with your sister!” Weiss said. “She needs to take her schoolwork more seriously!”

“Mmm-hmm,” Ruby repeated.

Ruby and Weiss were walking back to their dorm room together. It was something they often did since they shared their final class of the day. Weiss was ranting about Yang’s “flippant and irresponsible” attitude toward her homework, but Ruby had mostly stopped listening.

“She’s our teammate,” Weiss continued. “Her grades reflect on us as well.”

“Weiss…” Ruby muttered. She and Weiss had reached the door to their room. Ruby pushed it open as she said, “I don’t think—”

Ruby froze halfway through walking into the room, and Weiss bumped into her from behind.

“Hey!” Weiss said.

Ruby didn’t respond. Her eyes were locked on the upper bunk on the far side of the room. Blake and Yang were lying on top of it, cuddling together as close as could be.

Ruby clamped her mouth shut in order to hold in the happy squeal that was trying to escape her. But there was no suppressing the raw joy bubbling up inside of her. Yang had been secretly confiding in her for months about how she was going to go crazy if she didn’t figure out some way to ask Blake out. It looked like something she’d done had finally worked.

“Why are you just—?” Weiss started to ask. But she was cut off by Ruby nudging her back out of the room and closing the door.

“What is—?” Weiss tried to ask again.

“Nothing!” Ruby said with all the excitement of a six-year-old who had just been unleashed in a candy store.

“It doesn’t sound like nothing,” Weiss said.

Ruby grabbed Weiss’s hand and started dragging her away. She said, “Come on, Weiss! Let’s go!”

“Go? Go where?” Weiss asked.

“Uh…to the library!” Ruby said, thinking on her feet. “Weren’t you just saying yesterday that we need to start studying for the midterms?”

Whatever Weiss’s reply was, it was lost on Ruby. She was too giddy with joy for her sister and Blake. She wondered how it had happened. Had Yang made some big, romantic gesture? Had Blake finally realized that Yang was perfect for her? Ruby couldn’t wait to get back to the dorm tonight and hear the whole story.